Practice Statement: Communication

Many people with disabilities do not communicate using ‘formal’ capacities such as speech. This does not mean that they cannot communicate but, rather, that they do so in a different way. Communication is a crucial human right, as it allows people to express their wants and needs, and interact with others.

Practice Definition: Communication

What would be observed in practice:

  • Assumptions are never made about what a person can or can’t understand
  • People are spoken to directly – talk ‘to’ the person, not ‘about’ the person
  • If you can’t understand what’s being said, don’t pretend – ask again
  • Time is taken – some people may take a little longer to understand and respond
  • Support staff place themselves at eyelevel when speaking with someone who uses a wheelchair
  • Interpreters are available to support people when required, eg cultural support, Outcomes Discovery Interviews and planning
  • Advice/assistance is sought from agencies such as Talklink, or a speech therapist regarding tools like Makaton, gesture dictionaries, photo albums, PECs or any type of technology which may be of benefit to the person
  • People are offered choices every day
  • Support staff respond to any and all forms of communication, eg speech, sign, body language etc
  • Environments allow opportunities for people to have meaningful interactions

Role-based Resources

Residential Staff

Discussion Questions

  1. Why is it important to adapt our communication to suit the people we are around? Discuss situations where you do this in your everyday life with people who you don’t support (eg with family vs colleagues, children vs adults, people from different cultures etc).
  2. Watch the trailer for “An Animated Life”. How did Owen’s parents adapt their communication so that Owen could understand them?
  3. Watch the video about Bag Books. Would the people you support appreciate this creative approach to communication? Where could you get the resources to make a “Bag Book”?

 

Activities

Video

Video

Communication Team contacts Should you need to make a referral :

 

Specialist referrals

Our contact details:

angela.hausman@spectrumcare.org.nz

joe.roker@spectrumcare.org.nz

hannah.barnes@spectrumcare.org.nz

Community Services

Discussion Questions

  • Why is it important to adapt our communication to suit the people we are around? Discuss situations where you do this in your everyday life with people who you don’t support (eg with family vs colleagues, children vs adults, people from different cultures etc).
  • Watch the trailer for “An Animated Life”. How did Owen’s parents adapt their communication so that Owen could understand them?
  • Watch the video about Bag Books. Would the people you support appreciate this creative approach to communication? Where could you get the resources to make a “Bag Book”?

Activities

Hub and Support Staff

Discussion Questions

More to come…

Activities

More to come…

Managers and Coordinators

Discussion Questions

Read the five good communications standards described in the linked article then discuss the questions below.

  1. Intuitively we all understand that it is important to adapt our communication to suit the needs of the people we are interacting with. However, we don’t always do so. What reasons can you think of the may stop a staff member (or yourself) from adapting their communication style? How can we as managers continue to encourage staff to prioritise good quality communication with the people they support?
  2. Related to the question above, good adaptation of communication style from staff is something that should be encouraged and rewarded. What exact behaviours from your staff should you be looking for to reinforce? In other words what does good communication adaptation look like in practice and how do you recognise it?